by Julie Siple
MINNEAPOLIS — Two members of Minnesota's congressional delegation visited the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in Minneapolis Monday to call attention to the spread of Asian carp.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen discussed legislation introduced last week that would kick-start the process of possibly closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam to help stop the spread of the carp.
It would order studies on both the temporary and permanent closing of the navigation lock, and would require that the dam be immediately closed if Asian carp were found in certain areas.
Klobuchar said Asian carp threaten tourism, Minnesota's fifth-largest industry and one that relies on the state's lakes and rivers.
"In fact, it is an $11-billion-a-year industry," she said. "You can imagine if you even look at the economics of this, why it is so important that Asian carp are not devouring all our fish and our way of life in Minnesota."
They were joined by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Dave Schad, who said Asian carp present a real threat to Minnesota's waters.
"There's really no other fish that's capable of wreaking the kind of damage to our lakes and streams that these Asian carp present," Schad said.
Schad said the recent capture of carp in the Winona area shows the fish are here, though there is no evidence that they are breeding. Schad encouraged federal and state officials to help find a solution before the fish start breeding in Minnesota waters.
At the state level, Gov. Mark Dayton's proposed supplemental budget released Monday includes $4 million to fight the spread of Asian carp and other invasive species.
Klobuchar and Paulsen were at the University of Minnesota's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, near the lock and dam. Researchers at that lab are investigating ways to prevent the spread of Asian carp.